It's been a long, slow and hard climb for Central Arkansas cornerback Tyler Williams.
It started on the football fields of Smyrna off Atlanta Road when he was a linebacker/quarterback for the Smyrna Spartans. A lot of youth coaches including myself, Les Mastin and Roy Brown spent time with Williams and his mother Tracy, a dedicated "Football Mom."
She had him call "Coach Led" on Wednesday night to tell me he had a tryout with the Falcons. "After getting of the phone with Tyler, I yelled to Queen Led, "Hey, one of my boys has a tryout with the Falcons!"
I shared the news with the coaches. After talking about the coaches and telling him to pay attention to every detail in the meeting room, I told Williams to run up Dan Quinn and tell him that I was his coach and that we taught him the right way to play football.
He said, "Yes sir!" Just like the old days.
I hope he doesn't do that and get cut.
Williams hit everything that moved and hated losing as a kid. He grew to a 6-f0ot-1, 194-pound cornerback. He'll listen and try his best to do what his coaches ask.
He moved from the area, but his Tracy Williams stayed in touch.
There were major injuries he had to overcome and had to deal with losing his little brother Justice to gun violence. Through it all, he kept his love for the game and the "School First" motto that my Smyrna Spartan coaches used to get the kids to embrace books and ball.
I ran into Tracy Williams downtown after dropping my girls off at the Beyoncé' concert a few years back and she updated me on Tyler and their struggles, but vowed that they'd be just fine.
After his time at Greater Atlanta Christian, he went to Hutchinson Junior College and played with my little cousin Jeremiah Ledbetter (sixth round pick of the Detroit Lions.) Tracy Williams told me she'd keep me posted on Tyler and that he'd be doing "big things." She thought he was under-recruited and I told her that my Daddy always says, the "Cream Rises to the Top."
I told her the NFL scouts would find him if he kept hitting the books and playing.
Here's what he said about his mom Tracy.
Who is your role model, and why?
My mom because she’s so mentally tough, she never let hard times get to her and she showed me how to work hard for things I want in life and never look for a handout
Williams is a tough kid, who'll try to make the most of his tryout. Below is a list of the full rookie minicamp roster.